Thursday 3rd August 1899
Born on this day, Louis Chiron. He was the son of a maitre d’ hotel and growing up in Montecarlo, he apparentley absorbed all the cunning and smarts of the place. When in the army, instead of sitting in the trenches, he sat at the wheel of Marshal Foch’s limousine. His lover, an older American millionaire, financend his start in motor racing. Chiron became a successfull Grand Prix driver winning races all over Europe including the Franch, the Italian and the German Grand Prixs. In 1931 became the only Monegasque to win the home race, a feat still unrepeated. When the superiority of the German Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union silver arrows became overwhelming, he left the valiant fight to others, concentrating on sports car racing. After the end of WWII, in act more devious than smart, he became the virtual executioner of the “Bugatti Queen” Helle’ Nice, when he publicly accused her of having been a Gestapo collaborator. So disgraced, Helle’ Nice never regained her place in society and died alone and destitute. After this despicable episode, Chiron moved on to finish his long career triumphantly. First he won the 1954 Montecarlo Rally for Lancia and then, at age 58, at the wheel of a Lancia D50 became the oldest driver to ever compete in a F1 Grand Prix. This record, most likely to remain unbroken, came at the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix, in a drive offered to him by Gianni Lancia because of his win at the Montecarlo Rally. Fittingly, that victory was very controversial, taken in a Lancia Aurelia that should have been clearly disqualified for serious infringements of the rule book. However, all the complaints filed were rejected by the local organizers, all in support their favourite son. later in life, Louis Chiron became one of the top executives for the Monaco Grand Prix and his memory is honored with a statue of him on the race track and a corner in his name. A dashing, savvy carachter that would fit in swimmingly today.
Submitted by:Antonio Lombardi, Lombardi Historic Motoring LLC